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Say what you want about interleague play, but the Cubs vs. the Red Sox is pretty cool

May 20, 2011, 11:00 AM EDT

1918 Cubs

I’ve said enough about the blahness of interleague play. Let’s be done with that. Because, as Tiffany noted at the end of the video, there are some redeeming matchups that generate some actual organic fan interest, and the top of that list this season is the Red Sox vs. the Cubs.

These two storied franchises square off for three in Fenway Park this weekend and, as Anthony Castrovince of notes in an excellent column today, it’s a very different world now than it was in 1918, which was the last time they met.  Oh, and Castrovince gets bonus points for being the first baseball writer I can recall ever dropping a reference to the Zimmerman Telegram. Totally underrated episode in world history and, if it hasn’t been used for this end a hundred times already, would be the great launching point for a good alternate history yarn.

But of course 1918 was a long time ago. The Cubs were not too far removed from an actual world championship, both them and the Red Sox were playing in shiny new ballparks that I’m sure the old timers called “gimmicky,” and Tim Wakefield was but a child.  Today the stakes of a Red Sox-Cubs matchup are far lower than they were the last time they met.

On the line for Boston: a six-game winning streak that has allowed them to pull a game and a half of the Rays.  The Cubs are only 19-23, but they just took two from a good Marlins team and a nice weekend — and a couple of breaks in the Reds and Cardinals respective series — can put them back in the thick of things in the NL Central.

So we have history. And we have novelty. And we have meaningful baseball.  I’ll gladly set aside my interleague ennui on account of that.

  1. yankeesgameday - May 20, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    This is why I love baseball. Can you imagine the Lakers not playing the Celtics for the next 100 years?!

    We should revel in this weekend then pass a law that says the Red Sox can’t play the Cubs again until 2100 unless both teams make the World Series.

    • b7p19 - May 20, 2011 at 12:09 PM

      Where do I sign?

  2. brianmoline - May 20, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    I’m looking forward to it as a Cubs fan, and after taking a couple of games from the Marlins, actually have hope that the North Siders can win a game at Fenway.

    • ryanmallettsbluntwrap - May 20, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      Brian if you ever had a shot to win a couple games at fenway now is your shot , I have a feeling Wakefield is going to get lit up as usual . It will be a good series , best of luck.

      • Jack Marshall - May 20, 2011 at 12:04 PM

        Wakefield is NOT usually “lit up.” His ERAs are always a bit inflated and misleading because there is a bigger than usual standard deviation between his good days and his bad ones. His knuckler still works (as his first start this year showed) , and for the first time this season, he actually has had some notice that he will be starting. I wouldn’t bet against him, but you go ahead.

      • brianmoline - May 20, 2011 at 12:28 PM

        Thanks. Regardless of the outcome, it will be cool to see the Cubs playing at Fenway. However, Soriano trying to play anything off the Green Monster could be…interesting. Maybe Quade will DH him this weekend. As for Wakefield, you never know with a knuckleballer. If it’s dancing, he could make the Cubs hitters look pretty silly.

      • ryanmallettsbluntwrap - May 20, 2011 at 12:52 PM

        Jack …… I love Wake but lets be honest , you don’t look forward to a guy with a + 5 ERA going out to the mound , He has pitched 23 innings this year and given up 14 runs , which is not exactly flattering , let me put it this way , this isn’t a game we can win with Great pitching , but this will be a game the Sox need to win with their bats .

      • Jack Marshall - May 20, 2011 at 3:46 PM

        He’s had two starts, was great in one and crap in the second–and in that one, he was derailed by some awful fielding. essentially you’re saying that one start proves he can’t pitch. But the first start proves that he still has it. If the knuckler is dancing, his ERA over-all is irrelevant. And it you know Wake, you know that.

        He’s the career winningest pitcher in baseball right now. He deserves some respect. The Red Sox are lucky to have a 6th starter of his caliber available.

  3. yankeesgameday - May 20, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    The Cubs in Fenway… This must be why that guy thinks the Rapture is coming this Saturday. He’s going to the game and expects to be transported right to Heaven.

    • Old Gator - May 20, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      I always chortle a bit when I think of with what indefatigable idiocy fundamentalists refer to the end of the world as “the rapture.” Rapture is, indeed, a Cubs-Red Sox series at Fenway. If you’re so superstitious, sanctimonious and just plain stupid that you regard the apocalypse as “rapture,” stay home, watch one of those brain-deadening evangelical shows instead, and let Jimmy Swaggart snooker you out of another hundred bucks.

      • heynerdlinger - May 20, 2011 at 11:29 AM

        What would really make this series rapturous would be if the Sox and Cubs wore 1918 throwbacks for at least one game.

        (And played a freaking day game!)

      • Ace - May 20, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        Good news! They actually are going to wear the 1918 throwback uniforms on Saturday! (It’s a night game though. Can’t win ’em all.)

      • heynerdlinger - May 20, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        Awesome. Maybe on Sunday they can each wear uniforms from their most recent World Series championships respectively.

      • simon94022 - May 20, 2011 at 1:06 PM

        My impression is that this guy who claims the “Rapture” will happen tomorrow afternoon has a pretty small following, though I could be wrong as I don’t exactly follow these things closely. It’s worth pointing out, though, that most Christians don’t believe in the Rapture at all, much less predictions of when it will happen. The Rapture theory was concocted only in the last century or so, and until mass media got ahold of it in the last few decades it was basically confined to fringe elements of American southern Protestantism.

        Anyway, if this Rapture comes about in the middle of tomorrow’s games, it would be interesting to see how the Rulebook handles the situation. If there are runners on 1st and 2nd, and the runner at 1st is raptured when the ball is put in play, is there still a forceout at 3rd?

        And one can certainly imagine other scenarios:

        “Line drive back to the Mound — snagged by Wakefield … But he’s raptured up to Heaven! The runners advance …. but wait, Joe West is signalling now that the ball was foul…”

  4. rebarratige - May 20, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    It is pretty crazy to imagine that probably every person in Fenway for the last Cubs-Sox game is dead and buried right now.

  5. martywinn - May 20, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    The rapture and the apocalypse are not the same thing. I disagree strongly with Camping on his predictions (it says right in the Bible no man knows the day or the hour) but I think Camping is saying that tomorrow is the rapture and sometime in October is judgment day/end of the world/apocalypse. The rapture means that the Christians will leave the earth and join Christ in the air/heaven when He comes to retrieve them. Judgment day is primarily what you should be concerned about.

    • spudchukar - May 20, 2011 at 3:35 PM

      Hey Marty, here is what I am concerned about in October. Will my Cards be playing in post season? What I do not need is sanctimonious proselytizing, quoting a humpteenth time translated fairy tale, and a superstitious “The End is Near” ranting.

    • Old Gator - May 20, 2011 at 4:00 PM

      Pardon me if I don’t lose much sleep over either fairy tale. On the other hand, this idea about Christians floating in the air, though it makes no difference to me one way or another, probably appeals to certain factions especially. I’m sure there are a lot of Tea Party nincompoops who will be enraptured by being able to look up Sara Palin’s skirt.

      • jimbo1949 - May 20, 2011 at 5:09 PM

        According to what I’ve read about this cockamamie kook, he claims that this will commence starting at midnite west of the international dateline and work it’s way around the world by time zone. Don’t know if he figured it out using the Julian or Gregorian calendar, probably looking for some wriggle room there. Either way there’ll be some excuses made.

  6. Chipmaker - May 20, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    The Red Sox and Cubs haven’t met in Boston since the 1918 World Series, but they did play an interleague series in Chicago in 2005.

    Plus the Cubs haven’t been to Boston at all since 1952, when the Braves were last in town. Hope they don’t get lost.

    • Joe - May 20, 2011 at 11:54 AM

      There’s maps.

      • rebarratige - May 20, 2011 at 1:28 PM

        Of the Google variety, even.

  7. cur68 - May 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Cubbies v Red Sox at Fenway. Wakefiled pitching. I’m going to take Wakefield in this one. Unless you’re the Mets you simply haven’t seen a knuckle ball in ages. Waker can make that thing dance. That being said; go Cubbies! Beat up those divisional opponents, yeah baby.

    • jimbo1949 - May 20, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      I concur, 68 on the divisional opponents. The AL beast has caught on to this guy. Don’t go for the kill, just slap it silly.

  8. natstowngreg - May 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    See, this is why my glass is half-full when it comes to interleague play.

  9. rc33 - May 20, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    Gimme a break Marshall. Wakefield’s inflated and misleading ERA? Somehow insinuating that the gruesome statistics are not Wakefield’s fault?
    Seriously, Wakes gonna get lit up Sunday night because that’s what he does nowadays: get lit up.
    I’m a Boston guy and go to about 20 games a year, but c’mon…
    It’s a miracle Wakefield still has a Major League job the way he’s pitched the past 2 seasons.
    As it is, he’s a relief pitcher that walks batters and as a bonus, gives up way too many home runs as well. Just what every ball club is looking for.
    The Cubs might stink but it won’t take much for them to pound him this weekend.

    • ryanmallettsbluntwrap - May 20, 2011 at 12:56 PM

      Yeah i don’t know what he is talking about RC33 , I agree , like i said , I love wake , guy does everything for the team and his community that he can , but he usually gets lit up as of late , It’s not a secret unless you haven’t watched him pitch.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 20, 2011 at 4:27 PM

        Looking at his stats since ’04, here are his BB/9, HR/9, FIP and xFIP
        [hope the formatting works]

        ’04 – 3.01 – 1.39 – 5.08 – 4.95
        ’05 – 2.72 – 1.40 – 4.75 – 4.53
        ’06 – 3.28 – 1.22 – 4.93 – 5.20
        ’07 – 3.05 – 1.05 – 4.67 – 4.89
        ’08 – 2.98 – 1.24 – 4.84 – 5.04
        ’09 – 3.47 – 0.83 – 4.58 – 5.42
        ’10 – 2.31 – 1.22 – 4.52 – 4.70
        ’11 – 3.09 – 1.54 – 5.21 – 4.80

        Can you find a more consistent pitcher? He’s the same guy he’s been the last few years, but like Mr. Marshall mentioned, he’s only pitched 23.1 innings so far so give him time. He’s betrayed by a terrible LOB% (56.8% vs career 70%) and he’s giving up slightly more HR/9 than usual.

        He won’t pitch like Lester or Beckett against the Yanks, but you should, by now, what he’ll give you. The same thing as all the other years.

  10. karaterobot - May 20, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Sorry Craig, nothing on Earth short of free HJs from Playboy models could make me give a rats ass about Cubs – Red Sox.

  11. spudchukar - May 20, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Gotta give you credit Craig, still hanging in there with the Cubs will win the NL Central. Blind Faith.

  12. ryanmallettsbluntwrap - May 20, 2011 at 11:03 PM

    Well that was a blow out

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